Effects of Steroids on the Male & Female Reproductive Systems

Legal and illegal steroids -- supplements or drugs similar to testosterone -- can have adverse effects on the male and female reproductive systems. Females might experience more severe effects when taking testosterone because it is produced in small amounts in the female body, making it a foreign substance for women. Effects of steroids in both sexes vary.

Syringe with vials (Image: jes2ufoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Visible Effects

Some side effects of steroid use will be visible to the naked eye. Men can experience breast growth beyond the muscular buildup of the chest muscles due to conversion to estrogen. In addition, the testicles might shrink. Men might also notice changes in hair growth patterns and they might lose hair. Women can might develop excess facial hair or lose hair from their head. In women, the clitoris might become unnaturally large while the breasts may lose some of their natural size. Women's voices often become deeper as a result of steroid use.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes resulting from the use of steroids can affect the steroid user. Men can experience erectile dysfunction and a decrease in sperm production, resulting in sterility. Men might also find that they are impotent and have a problem urinating. Prostate cancer has been found in rare instances. It is possible for women to interruption of their menstrual cycle from steroid use. In addition, women can develop infertility issues as well. Both sexes might experience changes in sex drive, either an increase in desire or a loss of desire. These hormonal changes in the body can increase the amount of acne on the user as well.

Lasting Effects

Many of the side effects of steroid use are irreversible. The development of reproductive cancers affects steroid users for the rest of their lives. In addition, women might continue to suffer from hair loss. In women, the clitoris might never return to normal size. For men, the enlargement of the breasts can be permanent with only surgical removal returning the breasts to normal size. The longer a person uses steroids, the longer it will take for their side effects to go away.

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